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Monteia’s Academy of Performing Arts brings dance enjoyment to children and adults

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter
BEN CALWELL | Metro
Monteia’s Academy of Performing Arts in Putnam County is preparing for another season of dance and arts instruction. Staff members include, from left: Courtney Estes, Bobby Smith, MAPA owner Monteia Childers, Peggy Siders, Amy Oatley and Jennifer Gallagher.
Monteia Childers works with 5-year-old MAPA dance student Addyson Abshire of Poca. Addyson takes ballet and tap dance lessons.
Monteia Childers works with a group of ballet students at Monteia’s Academy of Performing Arts in Putnam County. Childers is in her 36th year as a dance teacher.

For more than three decades Monteia Childers has been introducing children, teens and adults to the joys of dance. Her Monteia’s Academy of Performing Arts in Putnam County is a busy hub of activity as students arrive for lessons.

“This makes 36 years,” Childers said, as she greeted students and their parents recently at her 4333 Teays Valley Road studio.

Childers, an Eleanor native, started dancing when she was 7 years old.

“I’ve never stopped a year,” she said. “I’ve been everywhere and taught everywhere.”

At Monteia’s Academy of Performing Arts, Childers teaches all the dance programs to students ranging in age from 2 through adult. She teaches pointe, ballet, jazz, tap and lyrical.

“Pointe is the top level of ballet -- it’s what all little girls aspire to,” she said.

Students at MAPA get a complete education in dance.

“Students are looking for high-intensity classes, where the children are actually getting an education and not just learning one dance a year.”

New MAPA students get a free trial class, “and then we start the education,” Childers said.

MAPA is offering registrations for the upcoming dance season from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Teays Valley Road studio, next to Save A Lot.

“The dance season runs 10 months, with our recital the second Friday in June. We also have a Christmas show,” she said.

MAPA dancers also perform their show for residents of the nearby Regency Place assisted living facility.

Childers, who has a bachelor’s degree in education from West Virginia State University, said MAPA will again be performing in various dance competitions in the coming years. MAPA dancers had taken a break from the competition circuit, but that’s changing.

“We went to dance competitions for probably about 20 years. Our dance companies are now transforming into competition companies. We have auditions going on right now. People just need to give me a call for an audition time.”

MAPA provides family-affordable programs. The facility also offers observation areas.

“All the dance programs are technique and terminology driven with individualized instruction provided, as no two children learn the same,” Childers said.

MAPA is a multifaceted facility that teaches more than just dance. It also offers a children’s show choir component, Zumba, art, yoga for kids and martial arts. MAPA has also teamed with the Kanawha Players this season to offer children’s theatre classes with several performance opportunities.

Peggy Siders teaches Zumba classes, a danced-based exercise, at MAPA. She joined the studio at the end of last May. Her classes are geared toward ages 10 and older.

“Zumba is for all fitness levels -- beginner, intermediate and advanced,” Siders said. “My classes are infused with Latin flavor, along with hip-hop. The steps are easy to follow. It’s a high-energy, fun atmosphere.”

Siders’ Zumba classes incorporate low-impact moves.

“Our clientele can relate to whatever moves we’re doing,” she said.

Zumba co-instructor Amy Oatley said Zumba is an addicting form of exercise.

“My first class got me hooked,” Oatley said. “After that first class, I decided to be an instructor.”

MAPA also offers a dance fitness class taught by Nikki Kidder.

“Her classes are high-intensity. It’s not necessarily Zumba -- she calls it dance fitness,” Siders said.

Zumba students can just drop in and pay $5 per class. There is no membership fee.

It’s never too early to learn to read music, and MAPA is again offering a children’s show choir component to its curriculum. Krista Lloyd, a music teacher at Winfield Elementary School, will teach the class.

“It’s for early elementary through middle school” students, Lloyd said.

MAPA’s children’s show choir program is the perfect training ground for young students who would like to eventually be part of their respective high schools’ show choirs.

“It prepares them for show choir in high school,” she said.

At MAPA, show choir kids learn to read music, harmonize and get used to performing.

“You’re never too young to start,” Lloyd said.

Art classes are also offered at MAPA, taught by recent MAPA staff addition, Jennifer Gallagher.

“I’m new, and the program is new,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher’s first art class is designed for ages 8 to 14.

“I want to add adult instruction to that, as well,” she said.

Gallagher’s art classes cover a broad range of disciplines.

“We’re doing elements of design -- real art. It’s not just craft time. We’re learning color theory, we’re doing still-life and print-making techniques. I’m trying to make it fun, but with real art instruction in it, too. I’m really excited about it, and hope the community will see what we’re trying to build here,” Gallagher said.

Parents of MAPA students give the program a thumbs up.

Lauren and Christopher Abshire of Poca bring their 5-year-old daughter, Addyson, to MAPA for dance classes. For Addyson, dance is more than just an art form, it’s therapy.

“For Addyson, dance class is therapy. She’s legally deaf in her left ear, and children with hearing loss are known to have coordination and balance issues. When Addyson comes to dance class, she’s interacting with other kids, but she’s also getting the type of therapy that’s going to help her muscle tone and help with her balance and coordination issues,” Lauren Abshire said.

MAPA “opens up opportunities for her that no place else could,” she said.

For more information about Monteia’s Academy of Performing Arts, call 304-546-2452 or visit MAPA on Facebook.


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